If you've been pulled over for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it can be an extremely scary experience. With the loss of driving privileges, the threat of jail time, and the fear of the price tag associated with your criminal charges, you may feel like there's nowhere to turn. DUI charges can be extremely isolating for those being charged, as many people who have never faced DUI charges look on those who have very poorly, and it can be hard to ask for help or advice without facing judgment.
At DUI Lawyers 24/7, we know that everyone makes mistakes and that a mistake should not stop you from living the rest of your life. Whatever the circumstances, we are ready and standing by to help turn your case around, so that the best possible outcome is available to you. Our DUI attorneys have decades of combined experience, and all of that experience and knowledge are available to all of our clientele, no matter what criminal penalties they are facing, or how they came to be facing those penalties.
What are the Two Levels of DUIs?
Unlike some other states, Illinois does not classify DUIs based on the amount of DUIs you have received, but instead the level of DUI you are charged with is based on the events of each DUI. You can have 3 DUIs and still be charged with a misdemeanor, or no DUIs and be charged with a felony. This is entirely dependent on the circumstance of your DUI and arrest.
For example, the legal limit in Illinois is .08 BAC. If you blow a .09 BAC, this would normally be a misdemeanor. But if you blow a .09 BAC with a minor in your car, this is an automatic felony, as you have committed reckless endangerment of a minor as well as a DUI. You will also be charged with felony DUI if you are not a valid driver, do not have valid insurance, or if you are being charged with an additional DUI while on suspended driving privileges.
- Misdemeanor DUI: DUI's that involve no, or minimal, physical injury or property damage. Up to 1 year in jail and fines up to $1000 for first-time offenders, but time in jail and fines will increase with each additional DUI.
- Felony DUI/Aggravated DUI: DUI's that involve death, minors were present in any involved vehicles, reckless driving, or extreme injury or property damage.
Felony DUIs can range anywhere from a Class 4 to a Class X felony, depending on how many prior Felony DUI convictions you have, and the circumstances of your DUI. Starting at Class 4, Felony DUIs carry a minimum prison sentence of 3 years and $25,000 in fines. On the high end, Class X Felony DUIs, which normally involve the death of a victim, can range all the way up to 60 years in jail, to life, and $25,000 in fines.
Until you are read your charges, it can be a waiting game trying to figure out what you are being charged with. Thankfully, you only have to wait until your Bond Hearing, the day after
What Do I Do if I am Charged With a Felony DUI?
If you are being charged with a felony DUI or reckless homicide DUI, it is imperative that you hire a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. You are more likely to receive lessened charges with a strong defense and a criminal defense lawyer on your side, and you are also more likely to receive a plea deal or more lenient sentencing, such as community service rather than jail time.
Once you have hired an attorney, they will tell you what information they need from you. It is best to expect that they will want an extremely detailed walk-through of the events of your arrest, and the events leading up to your arrest. They will also want to know whether or not you submitted to field testing, anything you said to the arresting law enforcement officer, and anything you said to the officers at the police station.
Because it can be hard to remember every tiny detail, it's important to know for the future that in any situation where you are speaking with law enforcement officers, the less you talk the better it is for you. While many people believe that they can talk their way out of bad situations, or that you seem suspicious if you refuse to speak and ask for an attorney, asking for an attorney and exercising your right to stay silent cannot be used against you in court and is actually better for your case.
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How much does a DUI lawyer cost?
While most people only spend around $3,500 on lawyer fees for misdemeanor DUIs, the price increases dramatically when it comes to felony DUIs, as do the possible sentences. The average Cook County citizen will spend a minimum of $5,000 on a felony DUI attorney, with a high average of $10,000 and up if going to trial.
While these prices are steep, they are that way for a reason. When you are facing years behind bars for drunk driving charges, years of license suspension, and thousands in fines, it is hard work to convince a judge and the state prosecutors to lower charges, sentences, or fines.
We Can Help
Regardless of whether you're facing misdemeanor or felony DUI charges, the experienced DUI and criminal defense attorneys at DUI Lawyers 24/7 are ready to help! We believe that all of our clients deserve the best possible legal representation and the best possible defense for their cases. Call us today to set up a free consultation, and let's get started together building you the best custom defense possible, and get your life back on track.